Many great things occurred in the women’s sphere this weekend – underdog wins, the dethroning of champions – but we’re on the verge of celebrating something rarely, if ever, seen for women. With this weekend’s wins, Beantown will send their premier and DII sides to nationals.
The Women’s Premier League side came back from a halftime deficit to defeat Keystone 29-17 and reinforce their place in the championship bracket. Beantown’s D2 side won the New England/Empire championship, downing Morris 40-7 in the semis and Monmouth 34-12 in the final.
“They were the best games I’ve seen them play all season,” Beantown head coach Richard Ashfield of the DII’s undefeated season. “The scores flatter us a bit – especially against Monmouth. They were big and tough, caused us some problems. Standouts for the weekend included back row Madeline Vara, flyhalf Anne Venner and outside center Amanda Cleary.”
The premier side trailed 17-12 heading into the break against Keystone, but then used the wind in the second half to shut out the Pennsylvania side and tack on three more tries.
“They were much improved since the first time we saw them,” Ashfield compared Sunday's game to Beantown’s 47-0 win earlier in the season. “They were very physical, had good continuity – I give [coach] Kim Magrini lots of credit for their improvement.”
Keystone didn’t use the wind as well in the first half, choosing instead to keep the ball in hand. Beantown made some key tactical subs in the second half, most notably bringing in Kelly Seary for the more physical Katie Mathews.
“Kelly’s game management is fantastic,” Ashfield said. “With the wind at our backs, those 60-meter kicks allowed us to take a lot of territory.
“Mathews is a very different player,” Ashfield added. “She is a physical presence and a nice option as we try to build more depth in that position. The backline adjusts well; we keep things simple.”
Beantown remained composed despite trailing, and eventually put five players over the line: Ashley Clancy, Liz Fierman, Amy Daniels, Ali Pappas and Liz Standige. Emily Jones slotted two conversions.
Bringing two sides to nationals has been a club goal all year. The premier side has established themselves as a top-four team in the country, but the D2 side has been developing over the last couple of years. They experienced some success last year, winning their league but were ineligible for playoffs. They’ve continued their winning ways this year, and much of that success can be attributed to practicing alongside the premier players.
“The practices are very competitive,” Ashfield said. “They set a high standard for themselves, which makes coaching easier. For portions of the week, they’re all playing against each other, and that level of competition is better than what the D2 players see during league.”
It’s no wonder then that the D2 side plays a similar style to the WPL’s game, which includes their hallmarks of a strong scrum and forward game. Although the two sides’ schedules will overlap at nationals, the WPL side will at the very least be able watch the D2 team play the Atomic Sisters on Saturday. Beantown typically draws a boisterous following, and this year, they’ll have to divide their support between two teams vying for a national championship.